Hell's Canyon, on the border between Idaho and Oregon, is one of the most spectacular river reaches in the world, and the second deepest gorge in North America. The Snake River is the lifeblood of Hell's Canyon, tumbling out of the Great Basin on its way to reach the Columbia. The area's fish, wildlife and botanical values are as great as its scenic, recreation and cultural attributes.
Western Rivers Conservancy's first land acquisition occurred along the Snake, centered on a property known as Cache Creek Ranch. The 6,556-acre ranch is important habitat for elk, deer, eagle, bear and bighorn sheep, among others. Western Rivers Conservancy bought the land from the ranchers and transferred the property to the U.S. Forest Service in 1991. The ranch is now part of the Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area, and serves as a checkpoint for those venturing into Hell's Canyon.
Photo credits: Norman Eder, Jon-Paul Harrison
Because it is the gateway to spectacular Hells Canyon, most people get to the Cache Creek Ranch by boat from the Snake River. They can float down from an access point upstream from the ranch or come upriver by power boat. There is a power boat launch ramp at Heller Bar, about 9 miles downstream of the Ranch, or from Lewiston, Idaho or Clarkston, Washington, about 35 miles downstream. Contact the Forest Service for required permits to operate boats on the river.
The visitor center is staffed by volunteers who provide information, permits for travelling upstream from the mouth of the canyon, and assistance as needed. The center is located in the old ranch house and has a number of interpretive displays, a picnic area, and restrooms.
The lands within Cache Creek Ranch are managed by the Forest Service’s Hells Canyon National Recreation Area whose main office is in Enterprise, Oregon. Contact information.